Another sleepless night for the residents of southern Israel as Gaza terrorists launch at least 21 rocket and mortar attacks at communities across the region. Two Israelis were wounded in the night-long barrage, including a baby.
A few minutes after midnight, three medium-range Grad Katyusha missiles were fired at Be'er Sheva. The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted two of the projectiles, destroying them upon impact. The third landed in an open area on the outskirts of the city. No physical injuries or damage was reported.
At around the same time, the Color Red rocket alert system also activated for Ofakim, sending the community's residents racing for cover.
Radio announcers made it clear they wished they could provide more support to listeners who they knew were being forced out of bed, or to awaken their children, and run for cover.
“I want to express our solidarity and support for everyone who is sitting in the shelters and waiting for the 'all clear' tonight,” said a radio announcer on IDF Army Radio. “There is not much we personally can do to help tonight, other than to do our jobs, and to do them well, to help keep everyone's spirits up, to play the music and to provide information as it becomes available. We're doing the best we can.”
An hour earlier in Ashkelon a 9-month-old baby was hurt by flying shards of glass when a Gaza missile scored a direct hit on a nearby private vehicle. The baby was taken to the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and his mother told Army Radio on Thursday morning that is expected to be released later in the day.
A second person suffered shrapnel wounds when a rocket exploded in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council district around the same time. At least a dozen other rockets and mortar shells exploded in various open areas around Ofakim, Netivot, Ashkelon, Be'er Sheva, the Eshkol Regional Council district and elsewhere in the western Negev.
Shortly before 2:00 a.m., another Color Red siren was sounded in the communities of Meitar, Lehavim, and the Bedouin town of Rahat. Three rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva shortly afterwards, with one being intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and the other two landing in open areas. No phyiscal injuries or damage were reported.
Two Kassam rockets were fired at the city of Sderot after 3:00 a.m. One rocket landed on a road, causing some damage. A second rocket exploded in an open area. There were no physical injuries. Before 5:30 a.m. the Red Alert siren was heard in the Ashkelon area but it was unknown whether any rockets exploded in the area.
All public and summer events in these areas were canceled at the last minute due to the precarious security situation. In the Gaza Belt region, residents were ordered into the shelters; earlier in the day, they were told to remain within a 15-second range of any safe space throughout the day.
IAF fighter pilots eliminated an Islamic Jihad operative Wednesday night as he attempted to launch a rocket attack against Israel. Sources said the operative was a key commander of a Grad Katyusha launching unit in the Gaza terrorist organization.
Israeli army units on the Egyptian border are on the highest alert in response to a concrete warning that the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is planning another cross-border attack. On Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz announced that Israel can no longer consider the Egyptian frontier to be a “border of peace” due to new threats.
Eight Israelis died and 40 others were injured last week in terrorist operations against Israel along the border with Egypt, on Route 12 just north of Eilat.